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Boardman Park ranks high in national survey

March 1, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

The National Parks and Recreation Association has released the results of a member park survey and the findings have shown Boardman Township Park is definitely on top of its game. It has shown that Boardman Park is doing more with less and is a crowd favorite when compared to other parks across the nation.

Dan Slagle, Boardman Park's executive director, said the survey was done according to several specific categories based on budget size, jurisdiction population, and acres of parkland maintained. The park ranked with other parks with budgets of $1 million to $5 million. Boardman Park's annual budget is $1.8 million.

As for jurisdiction population, Boardman fits into the category of between 20,000 to 49,999. Boardman Township's population, according to Slagle, is around 41,000.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Boardman Park maintenance technician Pete Gordon carefully prunes some trees in preparation for spring. He is among the small staff of professionals who make Boardman Park rate high among other national, state and community parks across the nation.

As to acreage, Boardman Park is comprised of 227 acres of which only 60 acres are developed for recreational use.

"The majority of people's use is concentrated in that 60 acres," Slagle said. "It's another feather in our cap to serve that many people and preserve a natural habitat."

As for serving people, Boardman Park rated pretty high compared to other park systems, including some national parks. The national average attendance at a park that is less than 250 acres was 3,292 per year. Boardman Park's average annual attendance is at 31,050 per year.

The park also does well when it comes to budgets and maintenance issues. The park has 10 full-time employees compared to a national average of 22.18. The part-time staff is at 16 compared to the national average of more than 88.

Couple the staffing with the fact that the park has been functioning off two levies for over 30 years, and it paints a picture of the ultimate efficiency in management.

"We always thought we did a good job," Slagle said. "We just didn't realize how good when compared to the national average. The community should know that we are spending their money wisely."

Slagle said the survey took close to a year to compile. Now that it is done, he said it will be a vital tool when applying for a grant. Grants often require documentation on why and how the money will be spent and Slagle believes the survey will help in getting them.

"When we file for a grant we can use the results of the survey," he said. "It will come in handy."

He said the quality of Boardman Park, also called "The Green Oasis," will continue in 2012. Planned for this year are some major maintenance projects including landscaping on the new northern trail and the construction of Marge Hartman's PawsTown, which is expected to be completed before year's end.

"There are a lot of people patiently awaiting its opening," Slagle said.

As to the survey, Slagle said the good numbers are all due to the staff at the park. He said they are knowledgeable and care about the mission of the park to provide a place for the family to enjoy and learn about nature.

"Credit has to be given to the dedicated staff, who has been instrumental in the success of the park. It is their knowledge of the job coupled with a strong work ethic that has contributed to the efficient and effective delivery of recreational services to the community," Slagle said.



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